FUKUOKA – Ozeki Kaio made a strong comeback in his bid for yokozuna promotion after a first-day defeat as he handily disposed of Iwakiyama at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.
Kaio made an inauspicious start with a first-day defeat and left the Fukuoka hometown fans wondering if he will once again buckle under the pressure at crunch time at the 15-day meet.
But he overpowered Iwakiyama in a lopsided affair to bounce back with flying colors at Fukuoka Kokusai Center as he aims to win his second straight title for a chance at sumo’s ultimate rank.
Kaio bundled the third-ranked maegashira out from behind, leaving both men at 1-1.
Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu, meanwhile, made mincemeat out of Kakizoe to improve to 2-0 for a share of the early lead with several wrestlers.
In the day’s finale, Asashoryu stumbled forward but quickly regained his balance as he surged ahead to escort his opponent over the ridge. Kakizoe, a second-ranked maegashira, slipped to 0-2.
The yokozuna is looking to win his fifth Emperor’s Cup this year to match Chiyonofuji for the most titles captured in a single year since 1986.
Elsewhere, it was a day of missed fortune for the ozeki rank.
Tochiazuma escaped defeat against Kokkai by the slimmest of margins but Musoyama, who appeared to have his bout won against Tochinonada (1-1), failed to close the deal at the last moment.
Meanwhile, Chiyotaikai fell victim to a deft throwing technique deployed by Miyabiyama (1-1) to suffer his first loss.
Tochiazuma tossed Kokkai (0-2) to the turf and stayed aloft just long enough as ringside judges ruled that the second-ranked maegashira’s hand touched the turf first as both men hit the clay.
Tochiazuma, who won his second straight, must notch eight wins to keep his ozeki rank as must Musoyama, who fell to his second loss.
Meanwhile, sekiwake Wakanosato hoisted Dejima (0-2) up in the air before dumping the top maegashira over the ridge for his second win.
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